Q. What is the low-growing yellow-flowering plant that I see growing in the grass of many boulevards along the city streets? It looks like it grows in circular spreading clumps. I've seen it along highway roadsides also. Because it's rather pretty, I'm wondering if it would make a good groundcover in flowerbeds.—Judy M., Moorhead
I am so embarrassed. All our clay pots are the standard, terra cotta, reddish-tan color. The plants are doing beautifully, but Martha Stewart says the hot new trend is dark-toned, deep brownish-gray clay pots. Apparently plants in the old-fashioned tannish pots might die of fashion embarrassment. I've seen the new clay pots in stores, but I'm not buying replacements. Lucky for us, Martha just happens to sell the necessary color stain to transform your ordinary clay pots into the new daring and dashing dark tone. Pot color aside, characteristics of the plants that surround us do have impact because they appeal to our senses.
Q. I have three Knockout roses that were purchased last year. They have been doing well with lots of new growth and buds, which are starting to open. Yesterday I noticed white spots on some of the leaves. Today there are small holes in the leaves with the white spots. What is causing this and what can be done about it?—Kathy Brasgalla, West Fargo.
Before the days of pesticide safety, we youngsters used to ride our bicycles closely behind the city's mosquito spray truck as it wound its way through the streets belching thick white clouds of heavy fumes. We pretended we were biking through the fogs of London. Not only were we lacking helmets, we should have been wearing gas masks. Dealing with insects around the yard and garden is a balance between protecting plants while safeguarding humans and beneficial insects. Before we examine some common individual insects, let's discuss insecticides.
Q. Our silver maple has been hit with iron deficiency for the past two to three years. We have applied Sequestar iron around the base and around the tree to outskirts of the foliage. It now appears some branches are dead. Can a tree be saved from this? How often should one apply? Do you have a suggestion what to use?
The results are in. Several weeks ago I asked readers to relate their experiences with Endless Summer hydrangea. Few plants have received such national publicity since Wave petunias. But does Endless Summer live up to its marketing campaign, and is it suited to our region? Let's hear from those who have tried it, and then we'll summarize.
Would you eat a new fruit if someone told you it was poisonous? How about just a little taste to check out its flavor? No? I wouldn't either. Neither did our European ancestors when confronted with the new-fangled Central American fruit called the tomato. For over 200 years it was grown in European gardens as an ornamental novelty. Because they're in the same large plant family as the notorious deadly nightshade, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Q. I read with interest your article about planting lilacs. There is a lilac bush on my home farm that was planted by my great-grandmother over 140 years ago. I would like to establish new growth on another site on the farm. Is it possible, and do you have any advice on how to do this?
Q. We planted several old-fashioned lilac bushes in our backyard about three years ago, but they aren't growing very well. I see all the beautiful tall lilac bushes around the area and am wondering what we can do to make ours grow faster.—Judy Millstead, Alexandria, Minn.
Mother Nature is a nice lady, and I don't want a confrontation. But her survival-of-the-fittest rule could use a little tweaking. Couldn't she have made strawberry plants, lawns and perennial flowers better survivalists than quackgrass, dandelions and thistles? Imagine the possibilities if strawberries crowded out the poor, unfortunate quackgrass, while thistles were overrun with hybrid tea roses.